What's stopping Chris Jones from winning Defensive Player of the Year?

The odds for NFL's player awards have been up for a few weeks now and Kansas City's Chris Jones has some very low odds to compete for the Defensive Player of the Year award despite his 26 sacks over the past two seasons.
Chris Jones has developed into one of the best, if not the best, defensive tackles since joining the Chiefs back in 2016
Chris Jones has developed into one of the best, if not the best, defensive tackles since joining the Chiefs back in 2016 / Peter G. Aiken/GettyImages

The Kansas City Chiefs struck gold when they selected Chris Jones with the 37th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Jones has helped them reach four and win three Super Bowls. He's a five-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro selection at the defensive tackle position, yet he still finds a way to be underrated and underestimated.

That became clearer than ever when the odds for Defensive Player of the Year were released this offseason, listing Jones as the tenth-highest odds to take home the award.

Jones's odds are listed anywhere from +3000 to +2500, depending on the sportsbook, totals that sit comfortably behind pass rushers like Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys and T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jones might not be the sexiest pick to win the award considering he's only ever been a DPOY finalist once, two seasons ago when he lost to Nick Bosa who currently ranks third in odds. But given the new contract that made him the NFL's highest-paid defender and his dominant showing last season, what's stopping Jones from making the leap from the top five to the top of voting this season?

A full season for Chris Jones

Last year began with a very sickening camera shot of Chirs Jones sitting in the bleachers, sandwiched by his agents who were helping him hold for a bigger, better contract that he eventually received.

The season was a resounding success for Jones after Week 1's sit-out, grabbing at least one sack in five straight games on his way to 11 total sacks (including the playoffs). Combine that with his 13 tackles for a loss, 35 quarterback hits, and a huge blitz to help secure the Chiefs' Super Bowl LVIII victory, it was easy to see why he is now the NFL's highest-paid defensive tackle.

However, the shot of Jones sitting out of the Chiefs' 2023 banner-raising game definitely put a sour taste in DPOY voters' mouths. That's why this upcoming season with a full 17 games—or 16 if Kansas City's seeding is secured—could help push him over the edge like it nearly did two seasons ago.

During that 17-game season, only the fourth full season of his career, Jones recorded 15.5 sacks in the regular season which tied his career high from 2018. He added two more in the postseason that year on the way to Super Bowl victory number two.

There's a reason why he was one of the three finalists, and playing that full season, at a very high level nonetheless, was one of those reasons.

A brighter spotlight for Chris Jones

One thing Jones has always had since he put on the red-and-yellow No. 95 is a partner in crime. A Robin to his Batman. A Watson to his Holmes. For years this partner was Frank Clark, applying pressure around Jones for four years which allowed him to become as well-versed in blitzing as he is today.

Now Jones has a few options around him to help boost his numbers and allow for him to possibly break through the ceiling and get that illustrious DPOY award—maybe even to come close to the single-season sack record.

As we saw for the last half of the 2023-24 season, the Chiefs' most expensive addition to their defensive line worked out in Charles Omenihu. Although Omenihu will be coming into the season off a very recent ACL injury, he still proved reliable after signing a two-year, $20 million deal by racking up eight sacks and a huge forced fumble in the AFC Championship game before his season-ending injury occurred.

Outside of Omenihu, the defensive line looks almost identical to last season, with the only exception being a year of experience for the Chiefs' first-round draft pick in 2023. Felix Anudike-Uzomah might be able to bring Jones into the next stratosphere of his game with a leap in playing time and more snaps on the other side of the line.

Without Omenihu early in the season, Jones will have the spotlight on him more than ever. He will have to get to the quarterback through double teams much like he did last season, and he will have to do it consistently. But if he can put up numbers similar to how he did last season, he could very well finish in the top three of the DPOY rankings.

The highest-paid defender for a reason

It's not uncommon for star players to get their bag, and then turn into a diminished version of their former selves. It has happened countless times across NFL history, with names like Albert Haynesworth and Javon Walker coming to mind. But Jones is a different animal.

Jones has been vying for this record-setting contract for nearly two seasons, it was obvious that his appetite to show he deserved it was on display every game. With Jones finally getting the postseason sack monkey off his back in 2022, Chiefs fans could finally look at their DT and admit that he is one of the best defensive players in the league.

Now that Jones is paid like the best defensive player in the league, it's going to be showtime all over again for the soon-to-be-30-year-old—this time to show he's worth what he has in his bank account. Imagine the headlines and the stories that would be written about Jones winning DPOY as the highest-paid DT just one year after Patrick Mahomes won Super Bowl LVIII as the highest-paid QB.

No matter how good players like Parsons, Watt, Bosa, Myles Garrett (+750), and Maxx Crosby (+700) are this year, there's no reason to believe that Jones couldn't supersede them by the end of his first year as the NFL's highest-paid DT in history.